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Why the FCC Needs a New Chief

By Thane Peterson

MASS MAILINGS. Powell tends to minimize the breadth of the anger he has stirred up. He isn't giving interviews these days to print media, his spokesperson says, but he said in a recent C-Span appearance that "three-quarters" of the 2 million missives opposing his rule changes were from one group, the NRA,hich had its more fervent members each send in five postcards, one to each commissioner. Even if that's true, it means 300,000 NRA members opposed the issue, as well as 500,000 non-NRA-ites.

That's probably more opposition than the FCC has ever gotten before. It typically gets about 5,000 calls and letters on controversial issues, the FCC says.

Powell never mentioned the outpouring of calls and e-mail aimed at members of Congress. Common Cause and, an Internet-based liberal advocacy group started by two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, each say 300,000 people griped to their senators and representatives via their Web sites. MoveOn also collected 207,500 signatures on a petition to stop the FCC.

TIPPING THE SCALES. One reason for public anger is the shoddiness of the FCC's research. Powell proudly noted in his C-Span appearance that the FCC studied the issues for 20 months and did "12 empirical studies" ofmedia concentration before coming up with its new r

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